Speed Reads

police shootings

Tulsa cop fatally shoots an unarmed black man, Terence Crutcher, outside his stalled SUV

On Friday in Oklahoma, Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby fatally shot Terence Crutcher outside his stalled SUV, and on Monday, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan pledged, "I want to assure our community and I want to assure all of you and people across the nation who are going to be looking at this: We will achieve justice." The "this" he was referring to is video footage of the shooting, from a helicopter and also a police car dashboard camera. "It's very difficult to watch," Jordan said. "The first time I watched it I watched it with the family," on Sunday, he added. "We will do the right thing, we will not cover anything up." Be warned that the video does show Crutcher, 40, right after he is shot:

Crutcher's twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, seized on a comment from an officer in the helicopter, that Crutcher looked like a "bad dude." "The entire family is devastated," she said at a news conference on Monday. "That big bad dude was a father, that big bad dude was a son, that big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College just wanting to make us all proud, that big bad dude loved God, that big bad dude was in church singing with all of his flaws every week." She demanded that "incompetent" Officer Shelby — on paid leave, along with the officer who tased Crutcher — be charged immediately.

It is hard to tell from the video what precipitated the shooting, though Chief Jordan confirmed Monday that no weapons were found on Crutcher or in his car. Police spokeswoman Jeanne MacKenzie said earlier that officers had found a car in the middle of the road and as they approached, Crutcher walked out of the woods and "refused to follow commands given by the officers." She said as the police approached the vehicle, Crutcher "reached inside the vehicle and at that time there was a Taser deployment, and a short time later there was one shot fired." The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation into the incident.

At least 680 people, 161 of them black men like Crutcher, have been shot dead by police officers this year, The Washington Post reports. Attorney Benjamin Crump, who has represented some of those families, noted that at least two other black men were similarly shot dead this year by officers after their car broke down. "What was Terence Crutcher's crime?" he asked. "When unarmed people of color break down on the side of the road, we're not treated as citizens needing help, we're treated as criminals, as suspects."